Cartoons and toys used to go hand in hand, and never more than in the 1980s. Animated shows were often nothing more than extended commercials for the toys, grabbing some artists and voice actors on the cheap to coax kids into begging their parents for the latest thing.
Some of those cartoons rose above their hyper-capitalist origins and became beloved franchises with deep storytelling and great voice acting. Others, well, did not. Regardless, here are ten cartoons inspired by toys that any 80s kid will remember, and anyone younger might shake their head at. Don’t worry, kids. Your childhood is next.
Care Bear… Stare!
The Care Bears were actually first conceived as greeting cards. Artist Elena Kucharik painted them for the American Greetings Corporation in 1981. They were such a success that by 1983, there was a line of popular toys and in 1985, an animated series to promote them.
The denizens of the cloud kingdom of Care-a-Lot followed a pretty routine formula. Each episode, Professor Coldheart and Lord No Heart would attempt some scheme to ruin the bears’ mission of peace and love. At the end, the bears band together to deploy their belly-based laser system and the day is saved.
Many of the voice actors of Care Bears progressed to bigger things, including Susan Roman (Champ Heart) who went on to land the title role in Sailor Moon!